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April 26, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:01am

OpenStack Summit: Plotting a strategy to be the standard for private clouds

Analysis: Telcos were well represented during the keynotes in Austin.

By James Nunns

The OpenStack Summit has taken over Austin, Texas this week for its annual conference with growth, bimodal IT and use cases top of the agenda.

With OpenStack, only a seven years old organisation, it is keen to talk about the amount of growth it has experienced. From a starting group of 75, the group’s conference has grown to over 7,500 and its latest release, Mitaka, saw 2,300 contributors from almost 350 different companies.

There is no doubt that OpenStack has grown and grown quickly.

This can partly be attributed to it having solved a number of problems such as complexity and a lack of use cases. Three years ago, Gartner pointed out that OpenStack wasn’t ready to be an enterprise cloud offering but at the Summit, Donna Scott, VP, distinguished analyst at Gartner pointed to OpenStack being a key element of bimodal IT.

Jonathan Bryce, executive director, OpenStack Foundation, mirrored this message saying "OpenStack is a strategy for taking advantage of diversity in IT."

The diversity talked about is that businesses run numerous different architectures for different systems. It is unsurprising that cloud is pitched as a remedy to this with the speakers focusing on the many different areas that OpenStack can be used.

Bryce said that it now has customers in the four key areas of enterprise private cloud, public cloud, telecom and NFV, and big data analytics, with half of the Fortune 100 now running on OpenStack. How large those deployments are is unknown and little attention was given to the big data analytics side in the keynotes.

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OpenStack Summit: Becoming the standard for private clouds

It should be noted that OpenStack can be deployed as both a public cloud and a private cloud, but the private cloud side took the initial focus on the first day of the conference.

If there was a first day theme it would be that OpenStack is being used to connect the old to the new. New applications need the old applications as they need data from things like the systems of record to be able to work well.

What this has led to are competing priorities. Bryce said that success in IT over the next 10 years will be about satisfying those competing priorities.

AT&T is held up as one of OpenStack’s big customers, and it was unsurprising to hear from them during the keynotes. The company is aiming to move 75% into the cloud, and already has 10 OpenStack projects up and running and it is planning for another three to be added.

SAP and Volkswagen both gave presentations highlighting their use of OpenStack, with the answers as to why they are using it not surprising to hear.

Cost savings, faster development times, and a quicker return on investment are cloud selling points that have been rolled out for years, but they are still key selling points and it highlights the fact that not everyone is using cloud.

Cloud remains a growing market and while OpenStack may no longer be totally focused on being the open source version of AWS, it still holds the public cloud leader in high-regard.

Boris Renski, co-founder and CMO, Mirantis said he’s a big fan of AWS and that without it none of the attendees would be in Austin, and that OpenStack wouldn’t exist without it. This is the kind of message that has been heard from the OpenStack community before, but this time the cloud wants not to emulate AWS in public cloud, but wants to do it in private cloud.

AT&T finished its presentation with a call to action to: "make OpenStack the standard for private clouds." Should the technology continue to be adopted by the likes of VW, HMRC, Verizon, AT&T, Workday and more then it could fulfil this goal.

With the backing of vendors such as Red Hat, Intel, IBM, Rackspace and more, it holds the key to success in its hands.

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